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Teacher Who Became Pregnant by Sixth-Grade Boy Sentenced to Six Months in Jail; 35-Year-Old

November 15, 1997

Teacher Who Became Pregnant by Sixth-Grade Boy Sentenced to Six Months in Jail; 35-Year-Old Has Already Served 100 DaysBy TIM KLASS

KENT, Wash. (AP) _ A teacher who had sex with a 13-year-old boy and gave birth to his child was sentenced to six months in jail Friday after the boy’s mother said the woman ``has been punished enough for her mistake.″

Mary Kay LeTourneau, 35, hugged her lawyer amid sighs from supporters, including the boy’s family, as the judge announced the sentence.

Having already served 100 days, she still faces almost three months in jail. She was ordered into a three-year sex offender treatment program and is barred from contact with the boy, now 14, and their daughter Audrey, who is about six-months-old.

Mrs. LeTourneau, formerly a popular and well-regarded teacher in suburban Seattle, pleaded guilty in August to two counts of second-degree child rape.

Fighting tears in a voice nearly inaudible over the clicking shutters of photographers, she pleaded for a chance to restore her shattered life.

``I did something that I had no right to do,″ Mrs. LeTourneau told the court after sentencing. ``I give you my word it will not happen again. ... It was wrong and I am sorry.″

Turning aside a prosecution recommendation for a 6 1/2-year sentence, Superior Court Judge Linda Lau said she was persuaded that the defendant ``does not pose a risk to the community under this sentencing option.″

She said Mrs. LeTourneau must undergo closely supervised treatment and monitoring as a sex offender. If she violates any terms of her sentencing, the judge said she would face a seven-year, five-month prison term.

``Whether you stay out of prison is completely within your hands. It will not be easy. You will not simply be released into the community to live your life as you did before,″ the judge said. ``Violations in any degree will simply not be tolerated.″

Mrs. LeTourneau was a married mother of four when she began having sex with the boy in the summer of 1996, after his sixth-grade year in her class. She also had taught him in the second grade.

In interviews, he has said they planned the pregnancy together and exchanged rings.

Their daughter was born in May and is being reared by the boy’s mother, who told the judge that a prison term for Mrs. LeTourneau would saddle her already troubled son with a crushing burden of guilt.

``Mary is not a bad person, she’s just a human being that made a terrible mistake,″ said the mother, who was not identified to protect her son’s privacy. ``I feel that Mary has been punished enough for her mistake.″

In urging treatment, defense attorney David Gehrke said his client has already endured ``massive punishment.″

Gehrke said Mrs. LeTourneau knew her actions were wrong, but took the risks in part because of her diagnosed ``hypomania,″ a type of bipolar mental disorder. He also said her crime was ``much less harmful″ than those committed by other child rapists, because the boy doesn’t consider himself a victim.

The relationship was revealed when Mrs. LeTourneau’s husband, Steve, found love letters from the boy. LeTourneau has moved to Alaska with their children and is seeking a divorce.

``I just want her to get help,″ he said in an October interview with the Orange County Register in California, where Mrs. LeTourneau grew up.

Her father, John Schmitz, was a conservative Republican one-term congressman _ a fiery opponent of sex education in the schools. His political career ended in 1983 when it was revealed that he had two children with a mistress.